Digitalization and the European Union: Ideas, Politics, and Policy


Timo Seidl


March 1, 2022

Course Description

From meeting people to building things, from ordering food to consuming news, digital technologies have become ubiquitous in our social and economic lives, even before the pandemic made them seem truly indispensable. But as digital technologies have become essential, so have the companies that design and sell them. Large tech companies have become the most valuable companies on the planet, reflecting their enormous economic but increasingly also political power. However, the rise of Big Tech has not remained uncontested. Regulators in different parts of the world have put limits on the collection and use of data, protected gig workers, established guidelines on content moderation, and banned a variety of digital practices. The EU in particular has emerged as a global leader in digital policymaking, being sometimes dubbed a ‘regulatory superpower’ in the digital space. In this course, we will look not only at how digitalization is changing societies and economies, but also the EU has reacted to this transformation. We will explore the political economy but also the ideas underlying the rise of digital capitalism. And we will look at the policies the EU has adopted (or is planning to adopt) in response, as well as at the politics behind.